Insights Blog



By Patricia "Patti" Hall
on Oct 10, 2019
  • Healthcare | Life Sciences
An Exact Science: Finding the right Chief Medical Officer

When the first and universal requirement for a position is a Medical Degree, the pool of qualified applicants is inherently smaller. Now add requirements that span expertise in quality, compliance, clinical operations, regulatory, finance, investor relations, and management, and it's easy to see why qualified Chief Medical Officers are so highly sought after.

How does the right Chief Medical Officer influence the culture and approach to product development internally, and impact investor confidence externally? Often enormously. Attracting the right CMO requires a careful match of candidate skills to client needs, an evaluation that requires a strong understanding of the industry and long-standing relationships cultivated over the years with top prospects.

Potential CMOs come with a variety of skill sets, many of which meet a CMO job description on paper. But only through an assessment of their accomplishments, strengths and aspirations, measured against a company's size, culture, needs, and goals, will it be a sustainable fit.

Think of it this way - a candidate who has served as a medical director at a large, established company may find the opportunity to become the face of a smaller, growing organization launching a new product, highly compelling. Additionally, a physician executive with experience in drug development might be the exact fit for a company with just one product now, but working to keep its pipeline robust and moving forward to future commercialization.

Small to mid-cap clients may need more diverse capabilities that cross clinical operations and medical. While they require the same broad skill sets, they will need their CMO to manage and influence optics in the market, developing strong relationships and credibility with key opinion leaders. These medical leaders will have the important task of building investor confidence and strengthening the company's reputation among the scientific community.

In all instances, the common thread in attracting the right CMO is having a deep understanding of how the client strategies align with a medical leader's strengths in the therapeutic area, with the ability and willingness to partner with the executive team to achieve those common strategies. Each of these dynamics of a new CMO brings a diverse capability, reputation and credibility to what the client needs today and down the road. The "art and science" of executive search - done well - takes into account all of these factors and more.


About the Author


Patricia "Patti" Hall is a Managing Partner with QLK. She brings over two decades of experience specializing in general management, senior commercial and operations leadership across a diverse industry group in healthcare/life sciences, medical device, pharmaceutical, health and wellness and consumer products.

Learn more about Patti here.